Originally Publish February 25, 2021
The Alberta Liberals issue the following statement on the 2021 Alberta Budget.
Today’s UCP budget was an exercise in warped priorities and shortsightedness. This budget is bad news for Alberta’s economy, the province’s finances, and Albertans’ welfare.
Even during a pandemic, the UCP can’t keep themselves from making ideological cuts. Decreased funding to Alberta’s post-secondary institutions is the last thing Alberta needs. If the government is serious about economic growth and diversification, Alberta will require an educated and well-trained workforce. Cuts to post-secondary education directly undermine the UCP’s own stated goals. We must invest more, not less.
The UCP is failing to provide the necessary economic supports for businesses to recover. The Small and Medium Enterprise Grant is a good program, but it is underfunded. We must direct more provincial funds and federal aid towards this program to keep our small and medium-sized businesses afloat.
The lack of targeted funding to address the pandemic’s unequal effects on women is shocking. We must invest in programs to get women back in the workforce; otherwise, inequality will deepen, and Alberta will take an even more significant economic hit.
This budget also ignores the reality of the mental health and addictions crisis in Alberta by providing no new funding for this area. Mental health problems are on the rise due to COVID-19. 2020 was a record-setting year for opioid deaths. Funds might be tight, but mental health and addictions are areas where we need to spend more.
The Government’s flat-out refusal to address revenue problems ensures their $18.4 billion dollar deficit won’t be an anomaly. While recognising the difficult financial situation facing Albertans, we must plan to implement a sales tax in the coming years. An HST is the most economically efficient way to raise revenue for the public services Albertans depend on. Alberta’s future depends on rethinking our fiscal framework.